“What is the Impact of a Blog?” by Kim Juhas

           In the CRSI program, we learn a wide range of subject matter relating to community research, and dissemination of information through blogs and other resources is one of the topics on which we spent some time.  We visited the Civic Commons, Med City News, and the Plain Dealer, and thoroughly reviewed their websites and some blog sites.   We then discussed distribution of information through media. 

            The blogs that I found to have the most impact were ones that presented novel content that sparked a great deal of dialogue amongst readers.  It was not only the blog post itself that kept my interest, but the combination of the post and the conversation that it created.  This dialogue started from a basic idea from one person, and led to a collection of ideas from many.

            That is the beauty of a good blog.  A reader can be presented with many opinions about a topic, which can lead the reader to form more well-rounded and open-minded opinions.

            During our discussion of blogging, we came to a question of outcomes.  Information is only useful if it is read.  According to NM Incite, 181 million blogs could be found on the internet at the end of 2011.  How many people read these blogs? 

            Some blogs like the Civic Commons and Progress Ohio are focused on important social issues.

Are these blogs an effective tool to help promote social change?   Some spark more conversation than others. Do any of these conversations lead to policy change or new programs to address the identified problems?  Are new opinions formed from these discussions, or are many blog sites places where like-minded individuals discus their topics of choice?   Do these online conversations help others disseminate information and opinions to people who do not read blogs? 

            I would like to pose some questions to those read or write blogs.  How has your participation in blogging  affected you?  Do they provide you with good information to fuel conversation?  Do they inform your opinions?  What blogs do you find to have impact?  With several million blogs available at our fingertips, it is important to understand their impact.